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May 7, 2002

Pete Sampras


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Pete, please.

Q. How disappointed are you?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I'm very disappointed I didn't win the match, you know. I had a few chances, few opportunities that I didn't take advantage of. And, you know, he's a very strong player, hits the ball very deep, very heavy, and doesn't miss much. So I felt I had a few chances. And, you know, I give him credit. He played a solid clay court match like I thought he would.

Q. In the second set you came back and played very well.


Q. What happened in the third? Was your serve letting you down?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I was playing fine in the third. My serve let me down a little bit - the game that he broke me, I missed every first serve. And you just can't afford to do that. It's tough to serve and volley on everything and keep coming in. You know, I felt like I had a chance at 15-30 at - I'm not sure what the score was. I missed a few returns. It was kind of a very big game to lose. 4-3, things were going fine. And, you know, I was 0 for 7, 0 for 8 on first serves. I can only get away with that for so long. When the pressure got a little tougher, I, you know, threw in the double there on breakpoint and that was it. But the serve definitely let me down a little bit in the third.

Q. Why do you think that you cannot play on clay as well as you do on other surfaces? Is it technical or mental or...?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's not either one, technical or mental. A lot of it out there is movement, you know, being able to hit shots when you slide. Obviously, it slows down my serve a little bit and gives players more time, and time is a very big part of this sport, you know. But I feel like when I play well, I can play well on anything. I thought I was on my way to winning today and building confidence through the week. Didn't happen. I let it slip away. But I know I can play well out there. Felt pretty good today, but not obviously well enough to win. It was, you know, a tough opening round match to play Felix. He's a very strong player.

Q. How do you feel about Ivanisevic pulling out of Wimbledon?

PETE SAMPRAS: I was just told that a minute ago. Obviously, it's disappointing for him and for the event, defending champion. It's always an honor to go out two o'clock on the Monday. That's one of the few benefits you get for winning the tournament, you know, when you play (smiling). And I'm sure it's, you know -- he's disappointed. And, you know, the tournament itself, they always love having that defending champion come out two o'clock. Be interesting to see what they do this year. But it's just a big blow to the tournament. It was a great story, what happened last year, Goran finally doing it. Just, you know, I think he made the right decision because I hear his shoulder is pretty bad, and you got to take care of your health before anything.

Q. It was almost as if you were playing at home because all the crowd was for you. Did you feel it, and did it encourage you at the end? Did you feel the crowd?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, the crowd was great. It's always -- they're very much into the match. They saw I was struggling a little bit in the first set and definitely got behind me in the second. And I could feel the energy out there. It helped me, you know, at certain moments. The tiebreaker, they were very loud. Wish I could have given them a win, but didn't happen. But it's always a very good crowd here, very knowledgeable of the game. And it was too bad I didn't, you know, didn't win it.

Q. Is it encouraging, discouraging, a match like that? Do you take many positives or negatives from it?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, you can't -- you know, at this point where I'm at, I can't get negative. I can't get down on myself, and look at the big picture. But not, you know -- winning matches like this is what I need right now. I need to go into the rest of the year - clay - having won a little bit more. So I'm disappointed for that. But I feel like I hit the ball pretty well and had some chances and served pretty well at times. And, you know, it's never -- you can't take anything positive from losing. My energy felt good. I felt like I was capable of winning out there. So, you know... Didn't happen, and just got to get ready for next week.

Q. Who is the favorite of the tournament?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I mean, just go down the seeds and those are your guys, you know - Ferrero and Hewitt and Kuerten, you know. Just go down the seeds and those are the guys that are going to be around.

Q. Will you go to Hamburg?


THE INTERPRETER: That was difficult (smiling).

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, I can translate that (laughter).

Q. What are your main goals at the moment?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I mean, obviously my short-term goal here is to try to do well next week and have a good week of World Team Cup and hopefully peak at the French Open. And that's my immediate goal, you know. Long-term goal is to, you know, try to win a major for the year. You know, that's kind of where I'm at. I'm going to do whatever I can over the course of the next four months to try to win one, and it would be a great moment.

Q. You haven't won a tournament for two years now. Why do you think this happened? Is it technical, or are you less motivated?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I'm still very motivated. It's nothing technical. You know, I think, you know, breaking the record a couple years ago, it took a lot out of me. You know, week in, week out, it is tougher to find that enthusiasm. But, you know, last year could have been very different, you know. I could have won a major, a few breaks went my way. At Wimbledon it was a tough loss. Got to the final of the Open. So it's still there. It just takes, you know, playing well - which I think I am - and it takes a few breaks here and there - which I need to get. You know, safe to say players are better today. It's tough to win week in and week out. I know that those days are probably over. But I still feel like I've got some majors left in me, and that's what I'm working for.

Q. If and when you do win the next major, do you think it will be more special because it's something you've had to wait for and work hard for?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I mean, it's hard to top what happened in 2000. But if the day comes where I could break through and win a major, it could be my best achievement just because of having to work hard and get back up there and having some adversity. If the day comes, it will be a great moment - maybe my greatest. That's why I'm continuing to play. That's why I keep working hard, is to try to have that opportunity and maybe break through and win a Slam. But you just appreciate it a lot more as you get older. The next one, if it happens, I'm sure I'll, you know, cherish it more than anything maybe I've ever done.

End of FastScripts….

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